Friday, October 26, 2012

The Skin Map

The first book in author Stephen Lawhead's "Bright Empire" series,
The Skin Map, is a fantasy novel with a concept ripe for a long and interesting series of adventures. Kit Livingstone is a Londoner, 27 years old, who works a low-level management job. He is bored with his go-nowhere life and is marking time with his girlfriend Mina until someone better comes along. One morning he is working his way through the Metro to meet up with her, when the subway breaks down and he is forced to walk. As he passes a shadow-filled alley, he hears someone call his name. Inexplicably the man addressing him claims to be his great grandfather Cosimo and speaks of parallel universes and alternate realities. This leads to a mind-blowing journey for Kit to another place and time.

When Kit is brought back to his world he ultimately meets up with Mina, arriving many hours late. The upset Mina begins to chew him out, forcing him to defend himself with some of the details of his "trip". Of course, Mina does not believe a word. Kit then takes Mina back to the alley where the portal into the other reality was located, not only to mollify Mina, but to firm up his rattled mind. Upon entering the rift, Kit loses Mina. He ultimately meets up with Cosimo who begins to teach him about the present understanding of the "multi-verse" and about the quest to locate the map that details how to navigate along the connection paths. A map that began as a body tattoo on the explorer Douglas Flinders-Petrie who first unlocked the long-held secrets of these pathways.

Cosimo and a small group of allies have been working to explore and understand the links between the different times and places connected by the pathways. However, there are those who seek to use whatever means necessary to learn the secrets for their own nefarious reasons. These evil men are led by one Lord Burleigh who seems to turn up everywhere our intrepid explorers do, Egypt, Macao, and Prague. Everyone is seeking to locate and claim the various pieces of the skin map before the others. So far, a very interesting and well-written story. Now onto the next book in the series, The Bone House.

"The distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion - albeit a persistent one." Albert Einstein